For Winter round 2016 SIS/Essay Preparations- Classes are available to help you put your best foot forward for the SIS and essay preparations including Math/Logic-based essays. Our highly-effective advice is based on over two decades of experience with several hundred students who have been accepted to TJHSST. Contact us now while there is time.
On the Surface the SIS seems like a benign exercise, simply requiring the semifinalist to answer some questions, write an essay, etc. The advice given on the TJ website even says that a student should say what the student believes in and not to attempt to write “what TJ may wish to see...” Having helped students prepare for the TJHSST Admission Test for over two decades, I believe that every TJHSST semifinalist should note the following observations and their implications:
Unlike the test scores, which are quantifiable, essays and personal statements, by their nature, are evaluated subjectively. To be sure, the SIS is used subjectively; perhaps, that was the main purpose of the SIS – to enable the admissions committee to favor certain characteristics over others. For example, the admissions committee can say that a student's essay is not persuasive enough. The committee can say that a student's personal statement does not reflect a passion for science and technology. While these statements may sound outlandish, based on my own experience, I can tell you, that, since 2002, a few of the my top test scorers have been rejected precisely with such arguments. For example, parents of a very bright student, with top grades, who scored 97th percentile on verbal and 93rd or better on math were told that her essay did not reflect a commitment to science and technology. For an incoherent or a poorly written essay, it is difficult to argue otherwise, however, even for a well written essay, that does not persuasively argue or otherwise put the best case in favor of a prompt may provide a reason (read “justification”) for rejection! Before, you get perturbed, I must point out that historically, the TJ admissions committee has been extremely careful to accept virtually all students with the following attributes [please note that these score cutoff are used as an example; I have no way of reading the admissions committee's mind or agenda. I can only interpret my own observations over two decades and share them with my readers]:
- 97th percentile on math and verbal portion of the test
- Top grades (e.g., all A's)
- Excellent (strong) recommendations
- Strong personal statement and essays
- Clear commitment to math and science as demonstrated by activities.
In view of what I have stated above, what is a TJHSST semifinalist to do? My advice is summarized below:
Recognize that the admissions process' subjective “filtration system” may reject a student if the student gives the admissions committee a reason to do so!
It is your responsibility to identify your best achievements, especially those that highlight your “connection” to science or your passion for science and technology. No one else can or will speak for you! Only what you put in words on the online SIS form will represent you. How you accomplish a strong and effective SIS is entirely up to you!
What advice do we offer to our own students? We do not violate the spirit or the letter of TJHSST Admission's committee's requirement that the SIS responses be created by the applicant. An Olympic swimming coach trains (his/her swimmers) how to become better swimmers and how to manage energy and time. I train my students how to write well, how to project the best in them and how to put their best foot forward. Good Luck to all semifinalists. May the best (most qualified) semifinalists get accepted!
If you have any questions, please submit your comments below or contact us.